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The BBC's Paul Wood on the border of Serbia
"It seems eerily like a replay of the Kosovo war"
 real 56k

The BBC's Fergus Nicoll
"The government in Skopje is desperately concerned"
 real 56k

The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Skopje
"The group has been trapped since fighting first erupted"
 real 28k

Balkans Analyst Gabriel Partos
"The political landscape has changed"
 real 28k

Friday, 9 March, 2001, 18:48 GMT
Fighting flares on Kosovo border
Macedonian soldiers watching near the border
Macedonia has asked Nato for a buffer zone with Kosovo
Ethnic Albanian rebels have intensified their attacks against Serbian and Macedonian forces near the Kosovo border.

One Serb policeman was killed and three others injured in an exchange of fire near Lucane, just outside the Nato-controlled buffer zone between Kosovo and Serbia. Ethnic Albanians reported three people injured.


We insist on effective measures

Srdjan Kerim, Macedonian Foreign Minister
In Macedonia, a policeman was killed as the rebels managed to trap a government convoy for several hours near the villages of Brest and Malino.

The incidents come as Nato considers deploying troops along the volatile Macedonian border with Kosovo.

Click here to see a map of the area

At least one policeman and one guerrilla died in an hour-long exchange of fire involving artillery and heavy mortars, following the ambush in Macedonia.

The group was in the area for talks with local Albanian leaders and to distribute food aid to families in the region.

The Macedonian authorities have yet again closed all the border crossings with Kosovo to prevent incursions.

Buffer zone

Nato has rejected a Macedonian call for a buffer zone between Kosovo and Macedonia.

Serb forces on border with Macedonia
Yugoslavia says it will move into the "dangerous" border zone
But Macedonia Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim insisted in Brussels that Nato intervene in the border area.

"We don't insist on forms, we insist on effective measures," the minister said.

The military alliance has already decided to allow Yugoslav troops back into part of the buffer zone alongside Macedonia which divides Kosovo from the rest of Serbia.

Yugoslav officials said their troops would be ready to enter the zone in two days.

We want to prevent what can be limited, localised skirmishes becoming bigger or spilling over into the wider region


Nato chief
Lord Robertson
Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson said: "We want to prevent what can be limited, localised skirmishes becoming bigger or spilling over into the wider region."

The rebels have warned that opening the zone to Yugoslav forces will lead to a worsening of the violence.

The actions of rebels, who want to unite parts of Serbia and Macedonia where ethnic Albanians live, have attracted international condemnation.

Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani has described their activities as "totally unacceptable".


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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Europe
Q&A: Kosovo flare-up
09 Mar 01 | Europe
Macedonian convoy escapes ambush
06 Mar 01 | Europe
Macedonia blasts rebel base
08 Mar 01 | Europe
Analysis: Nato's Kosovo dilemma
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